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Seattle school board could ask state to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for all students

The resolution was brought before the Seattle Public Schools at Wednesday's board meeting.

SEATTLE — The board of Seattle Public Schools is considering a resolution that would request the Washington Board of Health (BOH) to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for all students across the state.

The resolution appeared on the school board’s agenda Wednesday night. A vote on the measure was postponed until the board’s Nov. 3 meeting.

The resolution would urge the BOH to adopt the mandate once the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) fully approves a COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 and up.

The Pfizer vaccine is the only COVID-19 vaccine that has received full approval from the FDA, which covers those 16 years old and up.

The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are currently approved through emergency-use authorization for those ages 12 years old and up. The Pfizer vaccine is approved for those aged 12-15 through an emergency-use authorization as well.

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The state already requires various vaccinations for students to attend school, including vaccinations for measles, mumps, tetanus and Hepatitis B.

However, requirements surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine have become polarizing in Washington state and across the country.

The vaccine mandate issued by Gov. Jay Inslee earlier this year for most state employees, health care workers and school employees was met with praise and protest, with some eligible workers deciding to give up their jobs instead of getting the shots.

Those workers have until Oct. 18 to be fully vaccinated against the virus.

Plus, vaccination rates vary across industries, age groups and areas throughout the state. According to the Washington State Department of Health, about 54% of 12-15-year-olds and about 60% of 16-17-year-olds having initiated their vaccinations.

Meanwhile, the Seattle school board’s considered resolution comes about a month and a half after students across the state returned to in-person learning.

Since the start of the school year, cases have continued to drop in all age groups following a summer surge due to the delta variant, but COVD-19 outbreaks in schools across Pierce, Kittitas and Grays Harbor counties have forced hundreds of students back to remote learning.

Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine could get authorization from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by next month for children ages 5-11.

Officials said the potential approval would help tremendously in keeping students in schools.